US Winter Olympics stars set to miss White House visit
WASHINGTON– President Donald Trump will welcome the United States’ Winter Olympics teams to the White House Friday, but the list of potential absentees reads like a who’s who list of America’s most well-known athletes.
Lindsey Vonn, Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon are among the stars set to be absent, some citing political differences with the president.
Freestyle skier Kenworthy, a vocal Trump critic, tweeted “the resistance is real” in reference to the expected White House no-shows.
“All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games,” tweeted the American, whose kiss with boyfriend Matthew Wilkas in Pyeongchang, South Korea became worldwide news after it was broadcast live on national television.
“Today is this year’s visit and USOC [US Olympic Committee] spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real.”
The US Olympic Committee has yet to respond to CNN’s request for a comment on the numbers of predicted absentees.
‘I would definitely decline my White House visit’
Kenworthy and figure skater Rippon, who won bronze at PyeongChang 2018 in February, were the first openly gay athletes to represent the US at a Winter Games.
The pair have been vocal against the Trump administration, and during the Games used social media to tell Vice President Mike Pence what they thought of his position on gay rights.
As governor of Indiana, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers, citing religious freedom. He later signed an amendment that prevented the law from being used to discriminate against LGBTQ customers.
Rippon, 28, last week named in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, is currently preparing to compete on the hit US TV show Dancing with the Stars.
Both Rippon and Kenworthy said during the Games that they would boycott Team USA’s visit to the White House after the Olympics.
Kenworthy told CNN Sport in February: “I would definitely decline my White House visit and when we were at our team processing, where everyone gets fitted for an Olympic ring they said: ‘Hey, you can pick this up at the White House visit’ and I said, ‘I’m not going to that’ and they were like ‘yeah, most of the athletes aren’t’.”
Vonn — the most successful American alpine skier in history — is another Winter Olympian who has spoken out against Trump’s presidency and is expected to be absent Friday.
“I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,” Vonn told CNN’s Alpine Edge in December.
According to USA Today other major names are also expected to miss the photo opportunity with President Trump, such as Olympic champions Chloe Kim, Shaun White and opening ceremony flag bearer Erin Hamlin, but it is not clear whether the trio – and others – will skip the meeting for political reasons.
Hamlin told USA Today that she would be visiting a children’s center instead.